Sergei Eisenstein shot ¡Que viva México! in Mexico in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression. The courageous financiers of this project were the author Upton Sinclair, his wife Mary Craig and a small group of their friends. They had great difficulties in keeping the production going; the economic crisis forced Sinclair to call a halt to it in early 1932. Shooting was stopped with most of the work completed; only one episode could not be filmed. At the same time Josef Stalin insisted on Eisenstein's return to the Soviet Union.
Eisenstein left Mexico with Sinclair's promise in mind; that all the negatives would be send to him to enable the final editing of the film in Moscow. Sinclair tried several times in vain to transfer the film footage to Russia, but the Soviet Film Industry was instructed not to import the film. Eisenstein had been denounced both as a political renegade and as a Trotskyite, which was, in the eyes of Stalin, a serious offence. Preventing Eisenstein from finishing his Mexican film was Stalin's punishment. Consequently Eisenstein was left without film work for several years and started teaching at the State Film School. The Stalinist propaganda, which heaped all the blame on Upton Sinclair for the tragic end of ¡Que viva México!, prevailed.
Two films utilizing Eisenstein's film footage were made with Upton Sinclair's permission: Thunder over Mexico made in 1933 by Sol Lesser and Time in the Sun, made by Mary Seton in 1939/40. Thanks to the foresight of Sinclair, who in the 1950s deposited the unedited materials of Eisenstein's film with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the subsequent work of Jay Leyda to make them accessible, all is not lost. We are sure that seventy years of archival care and investment in preserving the essence of this film will eventually result in an authentic reconstruction of this lost film.
Many film-historians are convinced that ¡Que viva México! is one of Eisenstein's greatest films. ¡Que viva México! stood at the crossroads of Eisenstein’s artistic development and at a crucial point in the evolution of the art of the cinema. This work deserves more than any other to be taken out of the archives, to be appreciated by a new generation! It is a treasure waiting to be discovered.
September 6, 2010 Subject:
some of the most amazing indigenous footage i have ever seen. a truly gorgeous portrait. it is amazing that this is in the public domain, as so many frames are in themselves works of art. gorgeous footage of bullsfighters- i loved the part where the toreador is getting wound into his costume. almost archetypal in its portrayal of woman, and fascinating juxtapositions with the faces of native mexicans with mayan/aztec statuary. a must.
April 19, 2010 Subject:
RECENTLY, I HAD THE CHANCE TO SEE THIS MOVIE, AND I REALLY LIKE, BEAUTIFUL. I SAW THIS AND ANOTHER FILMS ON A CINEMA IN QUERETARO, QRO,AS A PART OF A RUSSIAN FILM FEST.
November 3, 2009 Subject:
Que VIVA MEXICO
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FILM EVER!!
Really the essence of my people.
I recognize the music but I don't remembered the names.
Does anybody knows the names of the songs played?
Thank you very much
November 3, 2009 Subject:
One of hardest Eisnstein movies to find.
But this have Italian audio, the original one is in russian.
April 9, 2009 Subject:
This is a gorgeous film in the quality of its scenic design, energy of life that it exudes and visual depth. I appreciated the planning and care taken with its filming of its festivals and close ups of the people. Although the portions of the film which had a fictional plot could have been improved by better acting the overral richness of the Mexican culture was achieved. This is a unique film that leaves one with a lasting impression of classic cinema.
Try http://subtitles.images.o2.cz/d/185836/Que+Viva+Mexico.html to download the English subtitles in srt format from a rar file. Add 5 seconds at the beginning to the timing to get it adjusted from PAL to NTSC for the U.S.
March 30, 2009 Subject:
Don't bother to download the 512Kb MPEG4 (369 MB) file...image freeze at 1:11:11.
March 29, 2009 Subject:
the shot that started it all
this obscure volley of images from eisenstein's exploration of mexico and its people in the thirties is the foundation of every western ever made. watch this film and it will look curiously familiar.